28 Aug The Real basics of Nutrition
There is a lot of confusion surrounding nutrition these days and a lot of it is due to the sheer amount of information available to everyone regarding it.
Some of this is because the Internet allows everyone to share their two pennies worth on the subject regardless of his or her knowledge, experience, qualifications, anecdotal evidence or repeated success or lack of.
This is an example of that.
And this means people read one thing in one place, and hear the polar opposite in another and are left none the wiser as to what they actually need. Or if results don’t come quickly they blame the approach and try something new.
Programme hopping is a sure fire way to get nowhere.
And some of the confusion is because there is genuinely more than one way to skin a cat and consistent adherence to any one of these will give results. It’s the chopping and changing that kills it.
With this going on, all you can do as a coach in our position is to bring all your knowledge and experience together and develop a philosophy that you wholly believe is best for you clients.
Your recommendations may change in terms of macros/ingredients/recipes/whatever, but they’re always derived from your philosophy.
My philosophy from working with hundreds of people on a weekly basis and seeing progress, listening to common problems and questions, and spending a bollock load of time learning through reading and doing is this:
Eat real foods in the right amount.
I have an MSc, a multitude of other accreditations, 10 years of working in fitness and that’s the best I can come to, that first and foremost you should eat real foods, and after that you should consider how much of them you’re eating.
It will get 99% of people to 99% of their goals.
And yea I know it’s a bit simple and it doesn’t really answer all your questions right now, but let me explain a little further.
When working with someone I will ALWAYS first of all look at what it is they’re eating and what the quality of it is because this will improve nearly all of the things I want to improve if I can positively affect it.
Energy balance (calories in vs calories out), body composition, energy levels, performance, mood, short term and long term muscular/joint/mental/gut/everything health. All of these things that I am massively in to will improve.
And while losing weight is possible regardless of food quality if a calorie deficit is present, (i.e. you consume less than you use), calories are not my first port of call as food quality is even more basic and even more important because of the associated benefits beyond your appearance or body-fat percentage.
I mean sure you can eat crap and lose weight and still feel like crap, but I don’t want to be a part of that. It’s easy enough to find a coach who will want you to do that, but it’s not me.
Plus eating better food for many people will create a calorie deficit in itself, because simple, real, one ingredient foods are on the whole a lot more nutrient dense and calorie light.
Processed foods and products are more calorie dense and nutrient light.
Simply put it is harder to eat too much good food as you’ll be satiated quicker, consume more fibre, feel full for longer and take up more stomach space with calorie light foods.
Now yes, you can overeat on good food and some real foods are still calorie dense alongside being nutrient dense. So once we’ve spent a good amount of time working with someone’s food choices, and I mean a good amount of time beyond weeks, to make sure proper habits and understanding are developed to help people make good decisions in both ideal and un-ideal situations, we move on to how much food they should eat. This covers both macro’s and total calorie intake.
For me this means a 10% calorie deficit for weight loss, 10% calorie surplus for weight gain. Run this for a couple of weeks and if no change is seen reduce/increase by another 5% until desired results begin to occur.
This should give us sustainable and healthy weight change i.e. no crash diets or dirty bulks. This helps me tick my boxes of good health, mood, energy and performance while making positive changes.
Weight loss and mass gain will occur in these situations regardless of macro’s, but macro’s is where things get personal.
Protein will be pretty standard, around 30-40% of your calorie intake. Top end if your losing weight and bottom end if you’re gaining weight.
Carbs and fat will vary depending on your goals and performance, with 25% of your calorie intake a minimum for either to make sure you get all the nutrients you need to feel and function well.
If you’re aiming to lose weight generally carbs will be lower, and fats higher to get your body more accustomed to using fat as an energy source. If you’re looking to gain weight, carbs will be higher as they’re better for the top end performance that you will require to lift heavy weights in the gym (nobody built good muscle on half-assed sessions because they had no energy).
So a basic weight loss macro split could be 35% protein, 30% carbs 35% fat.
A basic weight gain macro split could be 35% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fat.
Both could be 33%/33%/33% too and still work.
No extremes, just solid basics that leave you room either way to manoeuvre.
And this really is the basics of nutrition, nutrition that will work for nearly everyone.
Eat real foods in the right amount. Everything else is detail that will confuse you and distract you from what is really important and slow down your progress in both a body composition perspective and a health perspective.
This is health and fitness after all.